Back on Land

He deploys, and I make a life back on land.


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I’m Sick of Your I’m Sorry’s

I’ve heard it far too many times from too many spouses who are just doing their best holding down the fort during deployment. I’m sorry my house is so messy. I’m sorry we were late. I’m sorry I’m just so darn tired.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

Well, I’M SORRY, but just stop it! I’m sick of your I’m sorry’s because … you have nothing to be sorry for.

I'm Sick of Your I'm Sorry's

I was recently sitting with a spouse who apologized for the late hour, the messy house, and a litany of other imagined offenses, and then she said, “I don’t know what to do. I’m just trying to hold down the fort until he comes home.”

My heart just broke for her. It wasn’t enough that she was in a tough moment. She was also beating herself up over a few dirty dishes and a basket of laundry.

I turned to her and said, “Ummm … are the kids doing alright?”

“Oh yeah!” she nodded.

“Is everybody eating well?”

“Of course!” she grinned.

“Are you halfway caught up on laundry and dishes and still getting homework done and wrangling all those happy babies?”

Her smile broke a little then and she said, “Yes, but not like if he was here…”

Imagine that! The work of two people isn’t done perfectly when only one person is doing it!!! What a revelation!

I said it to her, and I’ll say to you now. Stop being sorry for only being one person. Stop apologizing for your fort when it appears to me you’re holding it down just fine. Would the wash be caught up and the dishes put away if your sailor was home? Probably! It’s easier to do those things when the kids can bug someone else for a change! Would the broken dishwasher or the missing keys be a big deal if he was here? Probably not! Because two people working together usually have more success than just the one.

Sometimes we idealize our sailors because it seems that things just go more smoothly when they are home, but what we don’t realize is that WE are a PART of that smoothness. We are a part of the solutions. We are HALF of a whole, and when one half is missing, it stands to reason that things might not work out quite the same way.

Now don’t get me wrong … our sailors are pretty great. They come home from a long deployment and just jump right back into the mix, and it is wonderful when they can shoulder some of the burden that we’ve been carrying for so long.

But … I think we’re pretty great, too. I think we’re doing okay, and I think those pretty great sailors are pretty darn proud of everything we do and how we hold down these forts while they are gone.

And I’m sorry, but that’s nothing to be sorry about.

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6 Tips for Homecoming Day

The time has come.

You’ve waited for him and longed for him. You’ve written emails and waited endlessly for replies. You’ve sent all your love and two pounds of candy in a gallon ziploc bag twice (if you were lucky), but now the waiting is over. It’s almost here. HE’S almost here, and here are 6 Tips for Homecoming Day.

6 Tips for Homecoming Day2

  1. Find out if your sailor has first-day duty. It’s no fun to show up, dressed to the nines and smiling like a lovesick fool, only to find out your sailor isn’t leaving the boat today. A lot of sailors have duty the first day because SOMEONE has to continue the work, and that could mean you won’t even SEE him until tomorrow. Find out ahead of time and avoid the disappointment.
  2. Dress to impress … and to wait. I’m a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl even for homecomings, but I’ve seen some beautiful spouses, fiance’s, and girlfriends dressed better for homecoming than I did my wedding! If that’s your thing then I say go for it, but remember you WILL be waiting. Possibly for a really, really long time, and DEFINITELY in a large crowd of families. Maybe wear flats, bring heels. Bring a sweater in case it’s cold (or to stay covered up) and supplies to touch up hair and make-up. It may be a long day, but if you’re prepared, you can stay pretty as picture until you see your sailor!
  3. Be prepared. This is NOT the day to skip breakfast. This is not the day to wear brand new (read: not broken in) high heels. This is not the day to forget to charge your phone. Be prepared. Did I say that twice? I meant to say it three times. Be prepared.
  4. Bring your camera (if you are permitted). I have been celebrating homecomings for thirteen years, and I have photos from exactly ONE of them. It breaks my heart that all those years, all those memories, are only just that … memories. As I get older the details will fade, and there will be no way for my kids to remember them. Snap away! (Again, if you are permitted. Follow the rules, people!)
  5. Pay attention to your kids. Homecoming can be such a great time, but it can also be confusing and difficult for the kids. I remember watching Sydney run out to bus after bus at our first homecoming on this boat. She ran to greet each one for over five hours, and it nearly broke me watching her little heart break each time. I know it’s been a long patrol for you, too, but you still need to be the strong one for one more day.
  6. Savor the moments, even the ones that aren’t yours. Homecomings are just beautiful. Sit back and really see them. First timers so filled with longing. Last timers ready to move on to their next chapter. First time seeing a pregnant belly, or first time holding a brand new life. These moments, these memories, are what we will take with us. These are the reasons we do this.

 Do you have a tip to share in the comments? Fill in the blank: I always ____________ for homecoming, and I will NEVER _______________ for homecoming again. I’d love to hear your homecoming stories in the comments!!!

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You Might Be a Sub Spouse If …

Yes, we’re all military spouses, but some things are kind of particular to submarine spouses. Give me an “AMEN!” if you feel me …

You Might Be a Sub Spouse if

 

  1. Sometimes hearing “You’ve got mail!” is better than hearing “It’s a girl!” or “You’ve just won …”
  2. Then you get your hopes dashed when it isn’t sailor mail but rather a JC Penney sale flyer and two ads to drugs that will NOT enhance your particular anatomy (and you keep click refreshing no matter how many times this happens …)You've Got Mail
  3. Saying the word “duty” DOESN’T even make you giggle anymore …
  4. When someone speaks of homecoming in public, even in loose terms, your heart beats like a hammer, you begin to sweat profusely, and you might even blurt out “OPSEC!!!!”opsec
  5. You know phone trees aren’t just for the PTA anymore.
  6. You can squeeze two magazines, a box of Cheezits, a clear container of homemade cookies, two pounds of candy, one pound of beef jerky, 26 letters, and 200 4×6 photos into a one gallon maildrop bag and STILL close it without using tape.
  7. You get a little jealous when you see signage, news coverage, and weeks of hoopla every time a carrier returns to port.

    stennis

    We still love you, Stennis! We’re just a little jealous … :(

  8. You want to scream when another military spouse talks about Skyping with his/her service member.
    skype
  9. You’ve spent $20, $40, $60, or maybe 100 bucks to win a First Kiss.
  10. The very sight of a submarine, THAT submarine, can be simultaneously majestic, humbling, heartbreaking, and joyous … oh, and DAMN SEXY!!!maine

God, I love my sailor!

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I’m Letting It Go

I’ve often said that there was divine reasoning in my family transferring to Washington, and I honestly believe that it was because this momma had a whole lot of hard lessons to learn. Washington is so far out of my comfort zone that lessons were inevitable, and some days it seems like I may not have known anything before I got here. Since moving here I have stopped being an I Would Never Mom (well … I’m working on it). I’ve figure out I can’t fix everything (and I’m not supposed to anyways). I’ve also figured out a few things I’m okay with liking (that in the past seemed so not okay).

Another important lesson I’m in the thick of at the moment is simply being okay with me. I think at 37 I am simply who I am. Yes, I am still learning and growing, but there are some simple truths to me that I need to stop fighting.  All my life I’ve believed I should be doing more, should feel a certain way, should act or be a particular person, but as Carrie Bradshaw once said, “Why are we should-ing all over ourselves?”

So I’m learning to accept who I am and letting get of the shoulds. Here’s a list of things I’m letting go of right now …

I'm Letting It Go

  1. Kale. No thanks. It came in my Bountiful Basket last week, and for a moment I entertained the idea of kale chips. Yes, I (lover of beef jerky, Dr. Pepper, and all forms of fried potatoes) almost jumped on the kale train. Almost, but nope. I just can’t buy into the kale craze, and I let both bunches go. This goes for other health food crazes as well. I don’t juice. I won’t do Atkins. If utter the words “Whole 30,” that’s going to be a quantity of snacks I ate not number of days of going without … and that’s okay. I’m totally down with fruits and veggies, and I’m learning about healthy portions. I’m learning to avoid overly processed foods most of the time, but guess what? Beef jerky is my jam. So I’m letting it go.
  2. A Perfect Home. I don’t have one, and I never will. I have friends with beautiful houses, and I am soooo jealous of them sometimes. And Pinterest? Are you kidding me? The gorgeous mantels, the perfect furniture, the Pottery-Barn-inspired-but-for-a-fraction-of-the-cost kids’ rooms? What the heck?!? I’ve had my own place for 18 years now; why can’t I figure it out? Well, the answer is simple. As much I appreciate beautiful decor, I just  don’t care enough to do the same at home. I like simple, clean lines. I prefer functionality. I crave organization … and I tend towards small piles and growing messes, but I’m okay with it. We live in this house, and as I’ve recently shared, this mess is exactly what my “I got this” looks like. Beautiful decor, I’m letting you go.

    It's a beautiful mess, and it's MINE.

    It’s a beautiful mess, and it’s MINE.

  3. Figuring out my “parenting style.” So much has changed since Aubrey and Sydney were little. Back then, I chose carseats based on pretty fabric, bottles based solely on price, and had never heard of attachment parenting, but from the moment I found out I was pregnant with Alli, I’ve felt bombarded with websites, books, commercials, and “friends” telling me how I should be raising my kids. Are you a crunchy mom? Will you rearface until she’s 4? Will you breastfeed until she’s 6 months? One year? Two? In public? You DON’T provide your baby with 100% organic, free range, grass fed, homemade sealed-in-sterilized-glass-jars baby food and only on a baby led weaning schedule?!? Sigh … here’s my “parenting style.” I make the best choices I can in the moment. I make mistakes. I laugh about it, cry about it, scream my head off, and move on. I don’t have a philosophy; I have a reality. Three kids doing pretty darn good. Not perfect but certainly my pride and joy. I’m letting it go.
  4. The Ideal Marriage. I kind of blame TV for this one. I grew up watching perfect couples with problems always solved within a one-hour window. Husbands always seemed to make crackpot decisions, see the error of their way, and always realize in the end that their wives were right in the first place, and wives, well, they were always right, always understanding and perfect, and … well … fake. That’s NOT what marriage looks like. I’ve had a hard time figuring this out, but Josh isn’t Ray Romano (classic goofball), and I am NOT Claire Huxtible (in my eyes the most perfect TV mom EVER). We are two intelligent, strong-willed people who make mistakes, who suck at compromise (but are trying), and who have decided together that sticking it out is worth every fight, every misunderstanding, and every “communication issue.” Fourteen years in we’re still figuring it out, but … we’re 14 YEARS IN to this marriage. We may not be the Cleavers, but we must be doing something right. I’m letting those “ideal marriages” go.

 

I can assure you that this list is incomplete. There are so many things I’m done with or trying to be done with “should-ing on myself” over. Letting go takes time. Letting go is hard. Letting go sometimes even hurts. But when it hits, when whatever it was, simply isn’t important anymore, I am able to focus on the things that really matter. The happy kids that live in the messy house and the usually happy husband that won’t always let me be right and I couldn’t love him more for it.

Those things I will never let go.


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Embracing Fall

At one time I dreaded the coming of Fall. It was like a very final good-bye to my favorite season, to late nights and lazy days, and to the warmth of the summer sun. But over the past few years I am finally learning to enjoy crisp mornings, changing of the leaves, and chilly nights. I am embracing Fall.

In my normal fashion, last year I went overboard, trying to decorate every flat space in my house, cramming in ALL THE ACTIVITIES, and generally “FALL-ing” my family to death. This year, I’m trying to take it easy. I’m trying to remember that we still have a killer schedule of school days, swim team, and too many meetings. I’m trying … but I do have a few things I’d love to share!

First, my Bucket List. You know I love a good list, and this one is all about Fall fun! I tried to keep it simple, mostly things we always do with only one new addition (the pumpkin party), and I’ve already given myself permission to skip anything that simply doesn’t fit in the schedule. It’s all about balance, right? (Right click and save if you’d like to print your own! Should print fine up to 8×10.)

Bucket List 14

Second, I made this fun wreath for my front door. I used a repurposed-100-times foam wreath, some dollar store leaves and flowers, some sparkly leaves from World Market, and burlap and berry picks from Michaels! What do you think?

Fall Wreath

I’m also working on a little mantel decorating! After Christmas last year I vowed never to decorate the mantel again because no one ever spent time in this part of the house, but recently I swapped the too-small living room furniture with our much-too-big-for-that-space dining room table. Now I happily work in that room every single day, and I’m looking forward to having something pretty to look at!

Fall Mantle

(It’s a work in progress. I have a giant mantle, stark white walls, and very high ceilings as well as no sense of decorating-style to contend with …)

Last but not least … the scent of Fall. I followed this recipe for Fall Potpourri, and it smells AMAZING! You really have to try it! My little helper said it smells like “love and heaven.” (Melt …)

Fall Potpourri

 

Focusing on the sights, smells, food, and fun of Fall has been key in helping me to embrace this season, and I hope it will help in embracing the weather as well. It seems that official Fall brought cloudy skies and buckets of rain along with it, but by surrounding myself with pretty things, “love and heaven” smells, and the promise of fun days ahead, I hope to find at least a few of those clouds have a silver lining!

What are your favorite things about Fall? Any fun activities, crafts, or foods, you’d care to share?

I don’t really do tutorials (I have Pinterest for that), but I will be sharing pictures of how our Bucket List activities come out over on Facebook. Make sure to click over and like my page to keep up with our Fall fun! Also follow Back on Land on Pinterest and share your fun Fall ideas with me!

 


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My Deployment Slump

As I posted on Facebook last week, I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately. Nothing major, just your average ordinary slump. I miss my sailor. I miss having back-up with the kids, and I miss having someone to vent all my frustrations with. I just plain miss him, and that’s okay. It’s a natural part of deployment, and I know how important it is to remind myself that feeling sad and lonely is okay. However, I also know that I’m not the best mom, wife, friend, and person I can be when I’m wallowing in a “poor me party.” Lucky for me this weekend boasted all I needed to pull me out of the dumps and push back into my “I got this!

How did I get out of my slump?

  1. Sunshine and fresh air. This weekend was a magnificent, and I soaked up the sunshine all weekend! On Saturday, I took the girls to the park, and we all enjoyed some time in the sun. Fresh air always makes me feel better, and after a week of cloudy days, I really needed that shot of Vitamin D from above!
  2. Volunteering. If you know me, you know volunteering is my jam. Seriously. PTO, Girl Scouts, FRG, Compass, Ombudsman, Room Mom, or Team Mom … I’ve done them all! If there’s a volunteer spot, I want to fill it because it feels great to help people! This weekend I volunteered to fill baskets at my local Bountiful Baskets site. Not only did I get my helping fix, I also met some new people and felt a sense of community. I struggle with a feeling of “not fitting in” here in Washington, but for some reason, on that day, counting out peppers and pomegranates, I felt like part of something local.
  3. Spending time with friends. Also on Saturday I spent time with the spouses of my Family Readiness Group for a really fun social event. Just being around people, good people, who know what I’m going through right at this moment made me feel better. It’s always good to know you’re not alone.
  4. Remember what’s important. On Sunday afternoon, the last day of the last official weekend of Fall, I took my girls down to the water for a quick photo shoot. I wanted to have a few pics to remind us all how beautiful summers are in Washington when we’re in the thick of the rainy season. The photos came out great! Plus we all got a little more sun on our skin, and we had fun doing it!

IMG_9581b

Last week was tough. It hurts to miss someone you love so much, and it hurts to be in those slumps because then the blues build up. I was sad because I missed him so I was grumpy to my kids. Then my kids were grumpy so we were all arguing a bit more, and when there’s arguing going on my home, I’m certainly going to have less patience with the world around me, and that just opens up a whole new can of worms. It stinks. Plain and simple. That’s why it’s important to recognize when you’re in a slump and be prepared with your own list of things that always make you happy. I know that I need sunshine and people more than anything. Lucky for me, I was able to enjoy both all weekend long and come out of my slump in no-time!

Do you know your own signs of a slump? What are they, and what do YOU do about it?

 


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What Will You Complain About Today?

 

Will you complain that he has duty? Will you complain because he has to work late?

Remember that when you haven’t seen him for a week. It wasn’t that bad …

Will you complain that you’ve only seen him for six hours over the last 96 during refit?

Remember that when you haven’t seen him for a month, and six hours sounds like heaven.

Will you complain that he left his boots in the middle of the floor?

Remember that when he’s been gone six weeks, and you would give anything to see those boots again.

Will you complain that departure has been extended for the third time?

Remember that when return has been extended as well.

Will you complain when it’s been a week since you saw his face?

Remember that when you haven’t had an email in three.

Will you complain when his pillow smells more like you than him?

Remember that on those offcrew days, in the midst of an argument, when you wish he could go out to sea for just. a. few. damn. days.

Will you complain when homecoming times change AGAIN?

Remember that when you wrap your arms around his neck for the first time in months.

Will you complain when he doesn’t show up on the first homecoming bus or the second or the third?

Remember that as you walk away with him, hand in hand, past other wives still waiting.

Will you complain when there is no stand down, when one crew has to support the other even though they’ve already been gone SO LONG?

Remember that when he comes home at night, as other wives begin their lonely night journeys.

Will you complain that this life is so hard? That deployments last too long? That you just can’ do this without him again?

Remember that every single time you see a Gold Star.

What will you complain about today?

What Will You Complain About Today

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